How to practice mindful concentration
- To practice make sure you are sitting or lying comfortably
- Close your eyes if you are comfortable doing so
- Focus on the breath and notice if any particular sounds, sensations, feelings or thoughts arise.
- Label them for what they are…. “ah, there’s a thought”, “sensing and breeze on the arm…”, “feeling unpleasant emotions…”
- If you notice your body is feeling uncomfortable, adjust your position if it has been an unpleasant distraction. To challenge this, remain the position to see if this passes.
- When you catch yourself going off in thought, that’s ok. Simply bring your concentration back to the breath.
Am I doing it right? What should I be paying attention to?
- If you notice an increase of discomfort in the body, adjust your position if it becomes unbearable. The challenge here is to remain the position to notice if this changes. As with this exercise, the only constant thing is change.
- When you catch yourself getting lost in thought, that’s OK. Simply bring your concentration back to the breath.
How long and how often?
- Mindful concentration becomes easier with time. To start, set a timer for 5 minutes to practice at the start or end of each day.
- When the practice becomes more familiar, extend the timer by 5 minutes each week until it’s at 20-40 minutes a day.
Variations and troubleshooting
- Using an app, such as Insight Timer, provides useful tools such as the recurring bell sounds that act as a trigger to notice what’s happening then and there. This can be useful at the start of mindful concentration practice as this can be a useful check-in aid every 30 seconds or 2 minutes during the meditation.
- Some people find the sensation of sitting in a meditation to be uncomfortable or not possible in a busy day-to-day routine. An alternative option would be to check in with thoughts, feelings and sensation with a set alarm or reminder. These can be set on your phone, or work laptop calendar prompts.
- Physical mindful concentration activities such as drawing, taking a bath or shower to concentrate on sensations, feelings, emotions and thoughts are also great ways to practice.
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